Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 1:04 pm
After a relatively calm few weeks, North Korea fired three short-range missiles Saturday, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said.
NPR's Louisa Lim reports that North Korea fired the missiles in defiance of international sanctions. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"North Korea launched two guided missiles this morning and a third in the afternoon, according to South Korea's defense ministry — all landed in waters off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula."
"This comes at a time when tensions had been ebbing, following months of escalating tensions, including threats of nuclear strikes. Pyongyang has recently withdrawn two midrange missiles which had been poised for firing on the east coast."
"The last time such short-range missiles were fired was just two months ago, in March. This latest launch comes just after the United Nations issued a report, saying international sanctions are reining in the development of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs."
The New York Times quotes Kim Min-seok, the defense ministry spokesman, saying the country remains vigilant "and prepared in case the launching of these missiles might be followed by a military provocation by the North."
"North Korea conducts regular launches of its Scud short-range missiles, which can hit targets in South Korea. It conducted a successful launch of a long-range missile last December, saying it put a weather satellite into orbit. The United States and its allies denounced the launch as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead."
As we reported last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also replaced his defense chief with a relative unknown.